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INSIDE THE STATEHOUSE: One renter protection bill dies in the House, but another passes

Posted at 10:43 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 18:05:16-04


The Senate voted 22-12 in support of bipartistan House Bill 594, which would require landlords to give 30 days notice -- if they wish to increase your rent 10% or more.

The original bill said 45 days, but it was later amended to 30.

As we previously reported, the bill was previously endorsed by the House, so it now heads to the governor's desk for consideration to become law.


Many conservative lawmakers opposed the bill because they felt it was impractical. One local leader in the fight against the affordable housing crisis said she is disappointed.

"In this market, it's a landlord's market to set the terms," said Deanna Watson, executive director of the Boise City Ada County Housing Authorities. "And they could charge a tremendous amount of security deposit, and then claim that it was needed to repair the unit, and the only option for the tenant -- or the former tenant -- is to sue them. So, there ought to be options prior to going to a lawsuit and clogging up the court system."

Another tenant protections bill, however, is still in the running. As we previously reported, Representative Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, and Representative Jarom Wagoner, R-Caldwell, co-sponsored a bill requiring landlords to give at least 45 days notice if they wish to raise one's rent more than 10%. Now, that bill has been amended to 30 days notice.

The "Fair Warning Bill" passed the full House on Thursday with bipartisan support.

Currently, the law is 15 days, though standard practice is to give a minimum of 30 days.

Two renter-related bills that 6 On Your Side first brought to your attention passed in commitee on Friday with strong support. Both bills would add landlord requirements and tenant protections in an effort to minimize the effects of Idaho's affordable housing crisis.

The first, by Representative Jarom Wagoner, R-Caldwell, and Representative Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, is a bipartisan bill by that says if a landlord wants to raise your rent more than 10%, they would need to give you at least 45 days notice.

The second is a bill by Representative Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, that would require landlords to provide itemized receipts for why they withhold amounts of money from your security deposit when you're moving out, and would limit the amount a landlord can charge per day for late fees on rent.

The bills will now head to the House floor.

Historically, attempts to regulate Idaho’s housing market have come few-and-far-between at the hands of state legislators; but this year, two bills introduced by House Representatives look to protect Idaho renters by placing limits on property managers. Both of those bills received a hearing Wednesday.

Wintrow's Landlord Requirements/Security Deposit legislation, House Bill 462, aims to define a process for landlords and tenants by requiring shared walk throughs at the time of move in and move out. Wintrow’s bill also aims to establish “reasonable limits” on fees, such as late fees.

This, she says, is to "ensure housing is available in the market for all people,” with the goal of helping employees and community members “reasonably afford housing and understand their obligations and rights under the law.”

With his deep-rooted knowledge on state affairs, there's a large swath of bills that Jones could have testified in favor of this session, but protecting the renter is what he's setting his sights on.

"It makes a tremendous difference to low-income people," said Jones, of Wintrow's bill. "And they're the ones that are least likely to go to court to defend against a claim, because they don't have the money to hire a lawyer."

"it's a protection for both parties," he added. "And if they trash the place, you've got the evidence there!"

Regarding the financial impact, Wintrow writes, "There is no fiscal impact on the general fund, because this bill establishes transparent processes to assess damages and fees between private property owners and tenants. Some property owners may see a slight decrease in revenue due to establishing reasonable limits on late fees.”

Jones said the process of finding another place to live after moving out is becoming increasingly difficult across the state, especially if one's credit is affected by a bogus property damage claim. For this reason and others, he says dings on your security deposit should come with explanation.

"I did some pro bono for a few tenants around here in the Treasure Valley, and some of the property managers -- not all of them, but some of them -- stack charges on. They want to get new carpet, they want to get the apartment painted, they want to replace the appliances," said Jones.

But H.B. 462 wasn't the only tenant-and-landlord-related bill that got a hearing today. Bipartisan House Bill 459, sponsored by Representative Jarom Wagoner (R-Caldwell) and Representative Ilana Rubel (D-Boise), would make it so if a landlord wants to raise your rent more than 10%, they would need to give you at least 45 days warning.

"I think we've all rented at one point in our lives, and it just would have been nice to have time to find a new place if we needed to," said Wagoner.

"It's not rent control," said Rubel, in an effort to clarify. "Your landlord can raise your rent 400% if they want, they can raise it as much as they want."

Currently the law is 15 days notice.

A familiar face to many in Boise's homeless community testified in favor of HB 459: Jodi Peterson-Stigers, executive director of Interfaith Sanctuary emergency homeless shelter.

"We've been at capacity for over a year and a half," said Peterson-Stigers. "And a family that is on a waiting list for housing is at a year and a half, and so I think this is a good first step for trying to hold people in place, so we have a little bit more ability to hold the people who have fallen out."

Nobody testified against HB 459.

The House Judiciary committee will vote on these bills at a later date. Follow along for updates.

Nobody testified against HB 459.

The House Judiciary committee will vote on these bills at a later date. Follow along for updates.